Being a graduate of D.A.R.E., I feel I have a little something to say about it. Many of the comments I have read about D.A.R.E. say that it is nothing more than government propaganda
to keep Our Nation's Children from becoming addicted to marijuana and other illegal mind-altering and mood-enhancing substances. And for many reasons, I hold the same view. Much of what is taught in the D.A.R.E. program concerning the softer drugs (i.e. marijuana
, and MDMA
') is almost completely baseless propaganda. The instructors hired by this program first tell horror stories of smack-junkies, crackheads, and other users who spend a large portion of their lives and money supporting habit
s that they can't control. (Note that these are drugs of the harder variety, whose use can easily become physically addicting.) The instructor then places the softer, non-habit forming drugs in the same category, essentially creating a singular negative idea of 'drugs' in the minds of the children
The problem with this is that:
- The horror stories are representative of a small portion of the population that uses drugs, and, concerning the softer drugs,
- It is baseless propaganda
These same children who graduated D.A.R.E. are going to grow up and see that in the Real World
very few people live a life controlled by drugs.
This, in its own way, is not a good thing. Many of my friends who did graduate D.A.R.E. and became potsmokers and acidtrippers and rollers know just enough about the chemicals they put in their bodies to believe that, instead of being completely and utterly detrimental to their entire life, these drugs are almost completely safe.
So while they now know that marijuana is non-habit forming, they may not know that those who smoke risk a greater chance of neck and throat cancer, along with everything that smoking a cigarette might cause (although since many potsmokers smoke much less marijuana than cigarette smokers, they don't stand as high a risk).
While LSD is practically impossible to overdose on (as is marijuana), and in its pure form does not cause nerve damage, it can cause psychological damage in those who are not prepared for it (i.e. taking a much larger dose than they are mentally capable of handling).
MDMA, or ecstasy, is quite probably linked with minor to significant nerve damage, as well as forms of depression in heavy users.
The problem is not just in the way the D.A.R.E. instructor groups all drugs into one category. It is also the drug laws that persist in the United States. The instructor can't rightly say to a room of fourth graders that marijuana and LSD have little to no eventual consequences and then reaffirm that they are illegal. The D.A.R.E. program is just a proponent of the U.S.'s draconian antidrug laws.
For the D.A.R.E. program to be viable, it must first be truthfully informative. If children were to get viable and honest information on the various substances out there, as well as methods of using them responsibly, drug use may go up, but I believe that hard drug use will go down. But for the D.A.R.E. program to teach children honest information about the drugs out there, the ill-informed and unjust drug laws in the United States would have to be overturned. And that is something I (regrettably) don't see happening anytime soon.
For an extensive database on the different drugs out there, try lycaeum.org and erowid.org. Both are highly informative and lycaeum.org contains the largest trip report database on the web.